Sounds of the Columbia River this morning. Never gets old.
Sounds of the Columbia River this morning. Never gets old.
I have 5 of these boxes. They’ve been stacked up, tucked into the corner of a closet since I packed away my academic past 8 years ago.
It’s time to sort through them and decide what stays. The temptation to not even sort, but to load them into the car en masse and take them directly to Goodwill is overwhelming.
It’s not because I don’t want to look at it. I’ve reconciled my feelings about my past academic career. I guess you could say that my priorities have shifted. I’m less interested in theory these days and much more interested in practice.
I could read a book. Again. Yet another tome on whatever it is I’m working on (parenting, marriage, ministry…) Or I can get down to the business of doing it. It’s inside thinking vs outside thinking. And while I can’t tell you the specifics about the next chapter of my life, because I’m still figuring that out–I’m pretty sure I know what it doesn’t entail: hoarding books in boxes.
So, I will sort, if a bit begrudgingly. With a new rubric for what makes the cut and a willingness to be guided by something more than what you can find in a book.
by A.A. Milne
She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbour:
“Winter is dead.”
At this very moment, our 17 year old is sitting his Physics final. This is the end of his second term at college and his spring break begins just as soon as he’s finished: having completed his Calculus final this morning.
Let me tell you, typing that paragraph is weird. We’ve been at this college thing now for six months and it still feels weird. And not just for me.
I took at a break from work yesterday and scooped up my college student for a quick trip to Starbucks. He loves going in the middle of his day, between classes: it’s a mental break. And it’s a chance for us to touch bases in a non-written form. (we’re on Instant Message a lot throughout the day.) At one point in the conversation he said, “I’m almost out the door. When I leave there’s no coming back to my childhood.”
He gets a little weepy at the idea, but then, so do I. It’s weird for all of us. I assured him, despite his skepticism now, that there would come a day soon where it wouldn’t be weird at all. Where he would be excited to visit and just as excited to return to his own life at school. “You can always come home, Geo– but trust me, something changes when you go off to college. You stop wanting to be at home all the time.”
It’s not just about his absence. I think we’re both feeling out how our relationship is changing. He isn’t ready and I’m not ready to stop being his “smother”… but, I’m letting go of the oversight more and more each day. And more and more, he’s solving things for himself and letting me in on the solution.
I think we’re on target. It feels like we’re exactly where we should be. We’re just a little sad that we’re at this point. And it’s my job, my last act of intense mothering, to point the way to a new relationship with my son, who is almost an adult.
He is not convinced that this moment will come. But we all know better, right? Besides, this is healthy. It’s a natural part of growing up. We want our children to leave the nest. Maybe not to go so far away; but we know they must leave, if they’re ever to truly live a life that belongs to them.
That being said, it’s utterly mind blowing for me to consider a life where he visits. It’s not only coming, it’s going to be OK. I recognize that it will feel weird at first to have him gone. And then we will grow used to the idea of our child living his own life. Just as we’ve grown used to seeing him less and less as he has moved into this new role of being a college student. I’m excited to see where his future takes him, even as I brush away tears at the thought.
I’m also beginning to recognize that the grief will eventually subside. That IZ and I, like our son, are beginning a new chapter of lives together. And, dare I admit, I’m looking forward to being alone, with my husband! We had a life together that predates this child of ours: and we’ll have a life together once he’s out of the house.
There is a new equilibrium coming. A space and time where our adult child is thriving in a world of his own. It’s just a matter of getting there.
All these posts with no picture. Tsk tsk.
Hands down, the highlight of my week (which has been very good! Lots of sunshine, lots of walks with IZ on the river front) was holding our neighbor’s two week old baby.
We’d dropped by, because we saw the proud new daddy working the yard and we wanted to give them a tree. (An aside, our neighbors have built a tiny farm in their back-yard. And I bought a pear tree 18 months ago on a whim *read:SALE* and then never found a place for it. Someone needed to put that tree in the ground and I was hoping it would be them!)
Baby G was born on the 25th of February, and we’d been keeping our distance because new parents deserve to not be inundated. But the whole street is excited. We keep asking each other, “Have you seen him, yet?” “No, no, giving them space.”
There have been other babies born in the neighborhood, but he’s our first on the block. With all of us either retired or with kids with one foot out the door: we needed a baby influx! And with all of us retired or with kids with one foot out the door, this baby is going to be surrounded with love and a bevy of extra “aunts and uncles”.
Anyhow, back to my story… we’re talking to Dad in the yard when Mom appears at the door, “Do you want to come inside and meet the baby?”
Um? Don’t have to ask me twice. I mentally told myself, “Stay calm, walk, walk.” I left IZ in the dust. See ya!
Let me tell you people. He’s gorgeous. I mean it. I know, I know, all babies are. But I’m completely unbiased, as this little guy is not related to me in any fashion. GORGEOUS. He’s just hanging out in his bassinet making all these adorable 2 week old baby faces. IZ and I stood over him, talking with Mom, getting the scoop on who this new little person is. And then she asked, “Do you want to hold him?”
Here’s the thing friends, I never ask. NEVER. I had one of those babies who could be passed around to strangers with ease. But when he got home, he would wail for hours. It overwhelmed his little senses and all the emotion he was bottling up from being passed around would just explode out of him. Our pediatrician’s recommendation was to limit the passing. She said, “You hold him, let other people talk to him while you do.”
So, from experience, I don’t ask to hold babies. Because there is nothing worse than being asked and then having to say “No.” It’s horrible; and while you’d think people would handle the “no” with grace: some don’t. Some feel entitled and tell you so. Some yell at you and make a scene and call you names. For me, it was my first lesson in parenting: you put your kid’s needs in front of other people’s desires. But that doesn’t mean it was an enjoyable lesson!
I washed up and held this new treasure. IZ stood behind me and we just cuddled with this precious new life. I felt my breath catch: and I realized I hadn’t held a baby this tiny since Geo. For a few moments we could see the future.
When I handed him back to his mother I said thank you. She probably has no idea what a gift it was to hold her newly born son. But it was: one I am treasuring and holding and keeping safe. Until the next time she asks.
A few years back, an email appeared in my in-box. I wearily looked at the sender and knew, “well, this won’t be good.” But I could not have imagined what was inside.
To say it was the most hurtful thing I’d ever read: well… that would have been true at the time. Since then, I’ve read worse — directed at me. But at that moment, it was devastating.
Reading it, my whole body shook: as if I was holding a real letter. No paper, just words on a screen and a violent physical reaction from me.
Never let anyone tell you words can’t hurt you. I’ll take sticks and stones.
And here’s the thing: I’ve written difficult letters. But never when I was angry: always trying to state the hard facts as FACTS. Not, “You’re a miserable person” — but “I can’t continue to be in this relationship.”
The end result is the same, I suppose. But I want to believe, actually I do believe that we all must speak our own truth: in love. Even if that love means letting go because it makes you safe and sane and human again.
But what arrived in my in-box that day wasn’t love. It wasn’t truth. It wasn’t even human. What it was? I’m not sure. I’ve sat with it for ages and I still can’t begin to tell you where to begin.
And it was eventually followed up (a year later) by an “apology”… that was really just more of the same. Only this time, it got worse. Somehow, all the bile that was sent my direction was now my fault, too. That and so much more.
And this is why you never say, “It can’t get any worse.” *smile*
Today was an amazing day. Day two of 60 degree weather so of course IZ and I found time to walk along the river and at some point on our walk this letter came up in conversation. IZ asked, “Are you going to publish it?”
I’ve been sorely tempted. At first to rebut it point by point. Then, because it would be therapeutic to put it to bed. Blogging has always been my way of working it out. Now, because some things should see the light of day: if only as a cautionary tale.
However, the timing has never seemed right. I’m not sure when that will be. But I have a hunch it will have something to do with finally letting go of figuring it out and letting the letter speak for itself.